The US immigration bill that intends to restrict H-1B visa-dependent Indian IT firms’ ability to hire more foreign workers, including people from India, crossed a key hurdle on Tuesday, making it through the senate committee.
The bill now goes for a vote on the senate floor -- sometime in June -- which will be neither easy nor quick, with a slew of amendments expected.
If it passes, the House of Representatives will either take it up in its present shape or come up with its own version. The two versions will then be merged for the President’s assent.The bill seeks to make it difficult and costly for companies to bring in non-US workers on H-1B (temporary working permit for high skill workers) and L-1 (intra-company transfers) visas.
IT companies such as Wipro, Infosys and TCS, which depend on heavily on H-1B workers, will resultantly find it harder and costlier to operate here.
The bill almost doubles annual cap on H-1B workers from the current 65,000. This should be good news for Indian IT firms, but the bill also makes sure that heavy H-1B users such as the Indian firms are unable to hire more foreign workers, with a staggered system of escalating caps and costs.
For instance, no more than 75% workers can be on H-1B or L-1 in 2014, 65% in 2015 and 50% from 2016 -- those over those limits cannot bring more foreign workers.
Indian firms are clearly the target. Commerce secretary S R Rao has written to the US Trade Representative calling these restrictive provisions of the bill protectionist in nature.
Indian techies looking to work in the US could, however, expect to be hired by American companies that are forced to recruit overseas because of a shortage of workers here.